Richard Pitino wasn’t shy about addressing the negativity he experienced last season and into the summer after the Gophers' tumultuous 2015-2016 season.
The team finished 8-23 overall and won just two games in the Big Ten. Off the court, the results were just as grim with several scandals involving Pitino’s players. The messy combination was supposed to get Pitino fired or at least that’s what many of the fans wanted.
A year later, Pitino is the Big Ten Coach of the Year.
“It’s cool to kind of go from where we were to now,” Pitino said Wednesday. “It’s a little bit better than than the alternative that was last year when everyone wanted me fired, so we have to ride that momentum the best we can.”
Gophers sophomore and Third Team All-Big Ten forward Jordan Murphy said Pitino never showed signs that the negativity was getting to him. Murphy also didn’t realize the level of scrutiny Pitino was under.
“Definitely proud of him,” Murphy said. “What he’s been through the past year and having so much pressure put on him and doing such a good job and just coaching through it, and not worrying about the outside noise. As a team, we’re really proud of him.
“I think he did a good job of hiding [any pressure he felt]. He definitely doesn’t let stuff affect him like that.”
A year removed from this stream of criticism, here is a look back on some of the mean tweets and the new mean tweets directed back at those who scorned Pitino.
Old mean tweets (calling for Pitino to be fired):
Why haven't we fired Pitino yet?— Maggie K. (@MaggieKabrick) May 11, 2016
Honestly, if @GopherMBB wasn't absolute trash, and if Richard's last name was anything but Pitino, he'd have been fired a while ago.— Ted Schwerzler (@tlschwerz) May 12, 2016
Should Richard Pitino be fired?— Negative Dave (@neg_dave) March 10, 2016
has Pitino been fired yet— E ✨ (@go4elk) May 9, 2016
Richard Pitino should be fired. They progressively get worse every game he coaches and this effort by his team today is embarrassing— Sam Meads (@sammeads3) March 9, 2016
Serious question: Does Richard Pitino get fired? I mean Minnesota is salvage yard garbage— Jefe (@JDM_Capital) March 9, 2016
Richard Pitino needs to be fired. This is so far past unacceptable. #gophers— Dick Tracy Orlando (@DickTracyOrlndo) March 5, 2016
How does Richard Pitino not get fired at Minnesota after getting blown out vs. 6-21 Rutgers today?— Matt Mackowiak (@MattMackowiak) March 5, 2016
Richard Pitino needs to be fired right now...and I mean during halftime— Robert Schroeder (@Robert_Schroe) March 5, 2016
I'm gonna laugh when Richard and Rick Pitino get fired this off season. Odds that Richard moved back in with his parents?— Nick (@DangItsNick) March 5, 2016
New mean tweets (in support of Pitino):
Pitino got B1G 2017 Coach of the Year and today I'll laugh at all the times people wanted him fired when I believed in him from the start������— CamIron Schafer (@CamFeSchafer) March 6, 2017
Classic Sid column today. Other sportswriters, fans wanted R.Pitino fired last year. "Genius" East Coast reporters wrong on Rubio-to-Knicks.— Bill Tuomala (@BillTuomala) February 24, 2017
@DWolfsonKSTP when is pitino getting fired? lol. I'm guessing you don't miss being asked that anymore.— Ali Siddiqui (@asiddiqui15) March 3, 2017